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12/14/14
‘Tis the Season
Filed under: General, Photography, Creativity, Inspiration, Family and Friends, Creative Every Day, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 11:34 am

December brings the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year. December brings holidays, family gatherings, and renewal of friendships. December brings a flurry of activities as well as a quiet contemplation of all the things in life to be grateful for, however large or small. December can also be a lonely time and it is important to reach out to others and let them know that you are there. It is also important to reach out to others when you are feeling alone as that will bring you outside of your inner world.

I have experienced a tremendous amount of growth and healing this year. From somewhat tentative steps taken over the past few years to make my life better, I have found self acceptance and self confidence that was not there before. I have been through a lot of very difficult times but I kept going and did not give up. There are a number of things that have made a difference in my life and I want to honor those here.

• Online art communities, online art classes, and art journaling

• Deepened, reciprocal relationships with my children as young adults

• My job, where I feel a sense of belonging and appreciation

• My friends, there for me even when I feel a need to pull back and withdraw

• My family, always there even when we don’t see each other often enough

• My doctors, who keep me healthy - can’t say enough good things about them

• My favorite person, for making it safe to open my heart and to trust

• The earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the water, the sky above us all

• My faith in God and my belief that everything happens for a reason


Mary MacIlvain

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11/22/14
Fall Quilt Retreat
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Family and Friends, Design, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 7:21 pm

I went to a three day quilt retreat with the Greater Middletown - Heart of the Valley Quilt Guild at YMCA Camp Hazen in Chester, Connecticut a couple of weeks ago and wanted to share about my experiences there. I have not been able to participate in any quilt activities the past 6 months because of my cataracts. After the cataracts healed from the surgery in October and I got my new glasses, I was able to thread a needle again, so I was a last minute signup for the retreat and filled the last empty spot. I have been attending quilt retreats for well over 10 years (see Quilt Retreat and Friendship) and these respites from daily life with good friends are very important to me.

Usually I go to a retreat with too many projects to complete and I stay up late and don’t take enough time to relax and visit with friends. This time I was the first one in bed on Friday night instead of doing marathon sewing and being one of the last ones going to bed. I signed up for a chair massage by the fireplace on Saturday and that was wonderful as all the tension in my shoulders melted away. I worked on some small journal page size experimental art quilt pieces without having any plan in mind. I signed up for the art doll class with the talented and creative Pat Gardiner. Her dolls have been exhibited widely including Houston Quilt Festival, the biggest quilt show on earth. While this was not a doll I would have chosen to make on my own, it was a fun experience and everyone in the class enjoyed themselves in the process of making the dolls and sharing our own stories.

Friends are important - the good, healthy kinds of friends who don’t have a hidden agenda and have your best interests at heart. These are the friends who accept you as you are and don’t expect you to compromise your values or do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. They don’t cross or push your boundaries - they respect your autonomy as a person and your right to be who you are. That is what friends are all about.

Here are some photos from the quilt retreat. Enjoy!


Mary MacIlvain

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08/30/14
Poetry/Journaling
Filed under: General, Collage, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Family and Friends, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 5:54 pm

I have been doing a lot of traditional journaling lately and have almost filled another spiral bound journal from Barnes & Noble. When I write poetry I usually use a pencil with a lined pad on a clipboard so that I can get comfortable, erase and cross out, and rearrange words. The poem on this scan of a page from my written journal was done in ink straight through with only a little correction tape in a few spots. It is a love poem for someone I think the world of, so it is too personal to share here. It is a nontraditional sonnet which is a format that I really like - 14 lines, it doesn’t rhyme, and it is not in iambic pentameter (a rhythm established in the groups of syllables) It was very special to have a poem spill out of my heart onto a page like that. I almost couldn’t write the thoughts down fast enough as they just tumbled out so quickly. That is how it has been in my written journal the past few weeks - the words just flow.

Words and books have always fascinated me. My father used to take us to the library on Saturday mornings and when I had children of my own I also took them to the library frequently. I have always loved being surrounded by books and was so happy when my son gave me these Ikea bookcases last year. I have a few books on my Kindle too but I prefer the feel of a book in my hands, and art books especially seem much better in book format.

What am I reading right now you might wonder?

Here is what is out on the coffee table:
The Poems of Hafez, translations by Reza Ordoubadian
Rumi Poems, pocket edition, selected and edited by Peter Washington
Journalkeeping by Carl J. Koch (library book)
Walking in This World by Julia Cameron (library book)
The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
Inner Excavation by Liz Lamoreux
Art Journaling magazine by Somerset Studio
Pages magazine by Cloth Paper Scissors
(I submitted artwork to CPS for Pages in August)
SAQA Journal by Studio Art Quilt Associates
(I submitted artwork to SAQA for a book in August)
Marketer, the Journal of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (brought home from work)


Mary MacIlvain

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07/28/14
A Day in the Life
Filed under: General, Mixed Media, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Family and Friends, Creative Every Day, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 7:44 pm

Is there a typical day in the life? Probably not. I start the day with coffee and my smart phone. I end the day with art books, poetry, YouTube mixed media videos on Netflix or traditional written journaling. I have a great job in marketing and I enjoy going there every day and seeing what challenges await me. Sometimes there are after work get togethers like kickball or a visit to a local restaurant. When I am not at work I enjoy art journaling and splashing paint around while trying to avoid spattering paint or gel medium on the dining room chairs. My décor is eclectic and my art materials have a prominent place in the house – basically all over the place! My kids are my best friends and we have fun together. I like to shop, I like to cook, and I like to hang out with friends. I am always busy doing something!


Mary MacIlvain

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03/05/13
Jeanie’s Quilt
Filed under: General, Photography, Creativity, Inspiration, Family and Friends, Design, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 10:11 pm

Last weekend I went to a quilt retreat at YMCA Camp Hazen in Chester, CT. I had a wonderful time in the lodge with my quilting friends and over the long weekend I made this photo graduation quilt for my son’s girlfriend. When I came to the retreat I had a gridded plan on graph paper, 16 photos printed on Printed Treasures pretreated printable fabric, and a sweater box filled with a varied selection of purple fabric. The quilt went together like a puzzle and then was free motion machine quilted on my Bernina. Last night I gave the quilt to Jeanie and she was thrilled to have this warm cuddly memory of her college graduation.


Mary MacIlvain

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12/18/11
Quilt Retreat and Friendship
Filed under: General, Creativity, Inspiration, Family and Friends, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 7:57 am

Today I realized how much the Heart of the Valley quilt retreats and friendships mean to me. There is a buzz of creativity in the YMCA Camp Hazen Lodge as we all come together for three days of quilting, sewing, eating, and talking. This is a place for friends old and new to share family style meals and special times together. There is a view of Cedar Lake out the wrap around windows in the lodge which brings a peaceful feeling to all. The surroundings are beautiful and there is time for a walk with friends to explore the woods or to sit by the huge stone fireplace and share stories. I have been going to the HOV retreats for many years and it is always a time for renewal and inspiration. Friends are so important and spending a weekend with friends in creative pursuits is life affirming and empowering.


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02/05/11
Scrapbook Page Design
Filed under: General, Scrapbooking, Family and Friends, Design, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 9:16 pm

A week ago I went to a scrapbooking event and decided to try out some new designs for my scrapbook pages. This is the start of a new scrapbook album of the holidays with family in 2010. Scrapbooking is a way to preserve memories, to chronicle events, and to tell your story. And it’s also a way to express your creativity. I have not been scrapbooking for that long and am still working on developing my own style in this medium.

For these pages, I designed borders to run across the top of the page and give continuity to each spread. A spread is two pages facing each other, i.e. side by side, when you open and look through the album. The titles encapsulate what is going on in the two pages and don’t need further explanation: “Thanksgiving Day Lock Out” and “New Laptop I Want my Internets!” Paper punches were used to add embellishments and corner accents were added to frame the photo collages. The focus is on the photos and the design pulls it all together.


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08/15/10
Crazy Quilt and the Passage of Time
Filed under: General, Creativity, Family and Friends, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 1:20 pm

This small crazy quilt piece is something that I have been working on over time, hence it represents a time passage piece. It depicts a few special moments captured in time. My children were younger when I made the photo transfers and assembled the crazy quilt blocks. Most of the time I enjoy taking it out of the specialty threads basket kept on the side table, look at it and fondly reminisce, and then put it back. Sometimes I add some embroidery stitches to the piece.

Lately I have been reflecting on the passage of time and how things change and yet how things remain the same. The threads of friendship connect us to one another and remind us of that special circle that goes around us. When you see an old friend after a long span of time it is almost as if the time between collapses and disappears. You catch up on things, renew the friendship, and the connection can grow stronger. Friends are truly wonderful.


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04/05/10
Best Friends
Filed under: General, Photography, Family and Friends
Posted by: Mary @ 8:21 pm

In tribute to the True North Arts Fabulous Friendship Festival, here are my best friends. They are always there for me: to lift me up when I am down and put a smile on my face, to get me to try new things like playing World of Warcraft, cooking new foods, or rearranging the furniture. They candidly share their unique perspective when I am over-thinking something. They always bring joy to my heart.



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12/26/09
Photo Memory Quilt
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Family and Friends, Quilting
Posted by: Mary @ 4:12 pm

Here is the photo memory wall quilt that I gave my daughter Marianne for Christmas. It was started in a workshop at the quilt retreat and finished at home. Printed Treasures inkjet printable fabric sheets are washable and colorfast and were used to print these photos with excellent results. A few years ago I made a photo bed quilt for her brother Joe with computer and monitor blocks that I had designed. Screen shots of video game scenes were printed using a different brand of inkjet printable fabric sheets and the colors washed out when I washed the quilt. It was very upsetting to have this happen but now I am going to redo the screen shots for his quilt with Printed Treasures brand fabric sheets and applique the retangles down over the washed out scenes.


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12/24/09
Happy Holidays
Filed under: General, Family and Friends
Posted by: Mary @ 5:25 pm

Later on tonight I will be going to an early midnight mass with my daughter. After a flurry of activity in the kitchen it is quiet in the house at the moment and I just wanted to take the time to express thanks for all the good things in my life. I am thankful for my children, my family, and my friends old and new for just being there. I am thankful for the roof over my head, good food to eat, my health, and a job to occupy my days well and pay the bills. I am thankful for the technology that makes it easy to keep in touch with people and expand your social network. And I am grateful for the creative community that exists and is growing here, spreading beyond geographic limitations and boundaries to inspire all to create, share and connect with one another. It’s awesome! Happy Holidays to all and may the spirit of the peace of Christmas be with you even if you don’t observe this particular holiday. Happy New Year and joy in creating.


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12/22/09
Aunt Ethel’s Quilt
Filed under: General, Family and Friends, Quilting
Posted by: Mary @ 10:01 pm

It has been a busy month and I am behind in posting to my blog. Here is the quilt I made for my Aunt Ethel for Christmas. I decided to bring it to her a few weeks early for her birthday and she just loved it. It is a lap quilt approximately 45″ by 60″ which is the perfect size for living in a convalescent type situation. It was started at the quilt retreat in a Quilt Bus class with Kris Driessen from a pattern by Phoebe Moon called Stars in My Window. The design was square so I added strips on either end to make it rectangular. The fabrics are mostly florals and vintage late eighties and early nineties from stash.



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06/13/09
Graduation Party
Filed under: General, Family and Friends
Posted by: Mary @ 11:54 pm

Marianne had a graduation party last weekend and here are a few of the pix. It was a beautiful day with good company and wonderful food. First photo is engineers Ron, Marianne, Kevin, and Pat at the dessert table, 2nd photo is Marianne and her new Janome 625E Sewist sewing machine, 3rd photo is her favorite brother and his girlfriend Kelly, and 4th photo is Marianne with mom (that’s me!).


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05/16/09
Graduation
Filed under: General, Family and Friends
Posted by: Mary @ 10:05 am

Marianne graduated from the University of Connecticut on Sunday May 10th with dual degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics. She  wore stoles with tassels for Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Honor Society and the Engineering Honor Society respectively, and an Honors Scholar Medal. She also made the front page of the UConn Daily Campus newspaper - click here to see the article. She will be entering a Ph.D. in electrical engineering program at UConn in the fall. It was a very happy Mother’s Day and we are all very proud of her!

It was dorm checkout after final exams last weekend for both Marianne and Joe so it was a busy weekend. The house is filled with stuff at the moment, there has been a lot of laundry, and they are sorting through their things. It is great to have them home for the summer! Here are some photos.


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